Tag Archives: sleep

Insomnia in midlife may manifest as cognitive problems in retirement age

Long-term insomnia symptoms can pose a risk of poorer cognitive functioning later in life. This is why insomnia should be treated as early as possible, according to a new study.

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The Helsinki Health Study at the University of Helsinki investigated the development of insomnia symptoms in midlife and their effects on memory, learning ability and concentration after retirement. The follow-up period was 15–17 years.

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Enhancing Deep Sleep

Many people, especially the elderly, suffer from abnormal sleep. In particular, the deep sleep phases become shorter and shallower with age. Deep sleep is important for the regeneration of the brain and memory, and also has a positive influence on the cardiovascular system.

Researchers have shown that the brain waves characterizing deep sleep, so-​called slow waves, can be improved by playing precisely timed sounds through earphones while sleeping. While this works well in the sleep laboratory under controlled conditions, there has thus far been no at home solution that can be used longer than just one night.

SleepLoop to the rescue

As part of the SleepLoop project (see illustration), researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a mobile system that can be used at home and aims to promote deep sleep through auditory brain stimulation.

The SleepLoop system consists of a headband that is put on at bedtime and worn throughout the night. This headband contains electrodes and a microchip that constantly measure the brain activity of the person sleeping. Data from this is analysed autonomously in real-​time on the microchip using custom software. As soon as the sleeping person shows slow waves in the brain activity characterizing deep sleep, the system triggers a short auditory signal (clicking). This helps to synchronize the neuronal cells and enhance the slow waves. What makes the solution unique is that the person sleeping is not consciously aware of this sound during deep sleep.

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Loss of Neurons, Not Lack of Sleep, Makes Alzheimer’s Patients Drowsy

The lethargy that many Alzheimer’s patients experience is caused not by a lack of sleep, but rather by the degeneration of a type of neuron that keeps us awake, according to a study that also confirms the tau protein is behind that neurodegeneration.

The study’s findings contradict the common notion that Alzheimer’s patients sleep during the day to make up for a bad night of sleep and point toward potential therapies to help these patients feel more awake.

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The data came from study participants who were patients at UC San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center and volunteered to have their sleep monitored with electroencephalogram (EEG) and donate their brains after they died.

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Balance between sleep and exercise may be key to help osteoarthritis patients manage pain

Although osteoarthritis has no cure, researchers are developing a new intervention to improve patients’ chronic pain outcomes.

It may shoot through the hands while typing or flare in the knees when getting out of the car. Wherever the pain, over 32 million Americans living with osteoarthritis experience it.

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To reduce that pain, patients living with the degenerative joint disease are often told to exercise.

It sounds simple.

But people with osteoarthritis may experience pain when they start to move more, which can be a deterrent to taking up, or sticking with, an exercise program.

“Pain during movement is an important reason why this population isn’t more active, and we need to identify ways we can help to change this,” said Daniel Whibley, Ph.D., research assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine. “Otherwise, they may end up in a loop of pain and inactivity that we know can lead to disability later down the line.”

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Poor sleep linked to feeling older and worse outlook on aging – Study

Poor sleep in the over 50s is linked to more negative perceptions of aging, which in turn can impact physical, mental and cognitive health, new research has revealed.

A study led by the University of Exeter found that people who rated their sleep the worst also felt older, and perceived their own physical and mental aging more negatively.

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Lead author Serena Sabatini, of the University of Exeter, said: “As we age, we all experience both positive and negative changes in many areas of our lives. However, some people perceive more negative changes than others. As we know that having a negative perception of aging can be detrimental to future physical health, mental health, and cognitive health, an open question in aging research is to understand what makes people more negative about aging. Our research suggests that poor sleepers feel older, and have a more negative perception of their aging. We need to study this further – one explanation could be that a more negative outlook influences both. However, it could be a sign that addressing sleep difficulties could promote a better perception of aging, which could have other health benefits.”

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Better sleep habits may be key to better health – AHA

I have written about how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. You can check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? I was happy to see this information on the subject by the American Heart Association.

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Improving your overall sleep health could help lower your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other cardiovascular threats, according to new research.

Experts already knew a lack of sleep and having sleep disorders can put health at risk. But the new study looked into whether the multiple factors that go into a good night’s sleep are collectively associated with health risks.

To measure overall sleep health, the researchers created a multi-dimensional score based on the average amount of sleep each night, the consistency of bedtime and wake-up times, and how long it takes to fall asleep. They also factored in excessive daytime sleepiness and symptoms of sleep disorders such as snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep.

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Bedtime linked to heart health – ESC

 Going to sleep between 10:00 and 11:00 pm is associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease compared to earlier or later bedtimes, according to a study published in European Heart Journal – Digital Health, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

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“The body has a 24-hour internal clock, called circadian rhythm, that helps regulate physical and mental functioning,” said study author Dr. David Plans of the University of Exeter, UK. “While we cannot conclude causation from our study, the results suggest that early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock, with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health.”

While numerous analyses have investigated the link between sleep duration and cardiovascular disease, the relationship between sleep timing and heart disease is under-explored. This study examined the association between objectively measured, rather than self-reported, sleep onset in a large sample of adults.

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DOD funds study to improve sleep, clearance of the brain

The U.S. Department of Defense is funding the first human trial of a device to speed up and enhance the natural system of brain cleansing that occurs when we sleep. 

The trial will be conducted among 90 people at three trial sites – University of North Carolina, University of Washington School of Medicine, and a collaboration between Oregon Health & Science University and the Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory (BEL). Results are expected in the fall of 2022.

Functional prototype to test in-home sleep treatment. Electronics and battery are perched on top of the head. Next generation of the device will have electronics/battery integrated in the headband.

Recent discoveries point to the importance of quality sleep for clearance of brain metabolic waste through the newly-discovered brain glymphatic system. If sleep is disrupted, so are these crucial processes, leading to cognitive impairment – things like faulty motor coordination, attention deficits, slower processing speed, decreased decision-making capabilities, and hampered short-term memory, in addition to increasing risk of neurodegenerative disease later in life. These issues can have life-or-death consequences for service members in the U.S. military, which is why the Department of Defense is funding innovative research initiatives, including this three-year, $4.3-million, project with the ultimate goal of helping service members overcome acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction.

The scientists leading this effort are from UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Washington School of Medicine, the Brain Electrophysiology Lab Oregon Health & Science University, and Montana State University.

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Cognitive decline may follow too much or too little sleep

Like so many other good things in life, sleep is best in moderation. A multiyear study of older adults found that both short and long sleepers experienced greater cognitive decline than people who slept a moderate amount, even when the effects of early Alzheimer’s disease were taken into account. The study was led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

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Poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease are both associated with cognitive decline, and separating out the effects of each has proven challenging. By tracking cognitive function in a large group of older adults over several years and analyzing it against levels of Alzheimer’s-related proteins and measures of brain activity during sleep, the researchers generated crucial data that help untangle the complicated relationship among sleep, Alzheimer’s and cognitive function. The findings could aid efforts to help keep people’s minds sharp as they age.

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Improving sleep and other lifestyle factors keys to better brain health

Sleep is our body’s way of restoring its vital organs including the brain. But what happens when sleep is elusive over a long period of time? Research shows that the lack of consistent sleep can impact our brains in negative ways and increase our risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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A research review in Nature Communications recently concluded that persistent short sleep durations of six hours or less at age 50, 60 and 70, as compared to a normal night’s sleep of seven hours, was associated with a 30% increase in dementia risk. The study looked at research that followed participants for 10 years or more.

So, what happens in our brains while we sleep? “Sleep is a restorative function,” explained Jeremy Pruzin, MD, a memory care expert at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix. “While we sleep the brain repairs synapses and clears substances, including the beta-amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

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Trouble falling asleep predicts cognitive impairment in later life

A study of nearly 2,500 adults found that having trouble falling asleep, as compared to other patterns of insomnia, was the main insomnia symptom that predicted cognitive impairment 14 years later.

Results show that having trouble falling asleep in 2002 was associated with cognitive impairment in 2016. Specifically, more frequent trouble falling asleep predicted poorer episodic memory, executive function, language, processing speed, and visuospatial performance. Further analysis found that associations between sleep initiation and later cognition were partially explained by both depressive symptoms and vascular diseases in 2014 for all domains except episodic memory, which was only partially explained by depressive symptoms.

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“While there is growing evidence for a link between insomnia and cognitive impairment in older adults, it has been difficult to interpret the nature of these associations given how differently both insomnia and cognitive impairment can present across individuals,” said lead author Afsara Zaheed, a graduate student in clinical science within the department of psychology at the University of Michigan. “By investigating associations between specific insomnia complaints and cognition over time using strong measures of cognitive ability, we hoped to gain additional clarity on whether and how these different sleep problems may lead to poor cognitive outcomes.”

Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite allowing enough time in bed for sleep. Daytime symptoms include fatigue or sleepiness; feeling dissatisfied with sleep; having trouble concentrating; feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable; and having low motivation or energy.

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Music Near Bedtime Disruptive to Sleep – Baylor – Study

Most people listen to music throughout their day and often near bedtime to wind down. But can that actually cause your sleep to suffer? When sleep researcher Michael Scullin, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, realized he was waking in the middle of the night with a song stuck in his head, he saw an opportunity to study how music — and particularly stuck songs — might affect sleep patterns.

Scullin’s recent study, published in Psychological Science, investigated the relationship between music listening and sleep, focusing on a rarely-explored mechanism: involuntary musical imagery, or “earworms,” when a song or tune replays over and over in a person’s mind. These commonly happen while awake, but Scullin found that they also can happen while trying to sleep.

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“Our brains continue to process music even when none is playing, including apparently while we are asleep,” Scullin said. “Everyone knows that music listening feels good. Adolescents and young adults routinely listen to music near bedtime. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. The more you listen to music, the more likely you are to catch an earworm that won’t go away at bedtime. When that happens, chances are your sleep is going to suffer.”

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People who have trouble sleeping are at a higher risk of dying – especially people with diabetes

People in the UK with sleep problems are at an increased risk of dying, finds a new study from the University of Surrey and Northwestern University. 

In a paper published by the Journal of Sleep Research, researchers reveal how they examined data* from half a million middle-aged UK participants asked if they had trouble falling asleep at night or woke up in the middle of the night.  

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The report found that people with frequent sleep problems are at a higher risk of dying than those without sleep problems. This grave outcome was more pronounced for people with Type-2 diabetes: during the nine years of the research, the study found that they were 87 per cent more likely to die of any cause than people without diabetes or sleep disturbances.   

The study also found that people with diabetes and sleep problems were 12 per cent more likely to die over this period than those who had diabetes but not frequent sleep disturbances. 

Malcolm von Schantz, the first author of the study and Professor of Chronobiology from the University of Surrey, said: 

“Although we already knew that there is a strong link between poor sleep and poor health, this illustrates the problem starkly.” 

“The question asked when the participants enrolled does not necessarily distinguish between insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea. Still, from a practical point of view it doesn’t matter. Doctors should take sleep problems as seriously as other risk factors and work with their patients on reducing and mitigating their overall risk.” 

Professor Kristen Knutson of Northwestern University, the senior co-author of the study, said: 

“Diabetes alone was associated with a 67 per cent increased risk of mortality. However, the mortality for participants with diabetes combined with frequent sleep problems was increased to 87 per cent. In order words, it is particularly important for doctors treating people with diabetes to also investigate sleep disorders and consider treatments where appropriate.” 

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Key tips to a healthy lifestyle

One picture us worth a thousand words. In this case, I think the infographic counts for even more. I hope this is all old news to you and you are living it fully. As an 81 year old I can tell you that I am certainly glad to have adopted my healthy lifestyle for the past 10 years. It’s never too late. The body is an organic machine which means there is constant regeneration going on. Use it to your advantage.

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Study identifies ‘three pillars’ of good mental health for young adults

Although most of my readers are over 21, it is worth remembering that good habits pay big dividends later in life. I hope you will pass along this info to any young adults in your social circle. Like a good investment, it can pay big dividends in later life.

Getting good quality sleep, exercising, and eating more raw fruits and vegetables predicts better mental health and well-being in young adults, a University of Otago study has found.

The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, surveyed more than 1100 young adults from New Zealand and the United States about their sleep, physical activity, diet, and mental health.

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Lead author Shay-Ruby Wickham, who completed the study as part of her Master of Science, says the research team found sleep quality, rather than sleep quantity, was the strongest predictor of mental health and well-being.

“This is surprising because sleep recommendations predominantly focus on quantity rather than quality. While we did see that both too little sleep – less than eight hours – and too much sleep – more than 12 hours – were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, sleep quality significantly outranked sleep quantity in predicting mental health and well-being.

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Concussions can cause long-term sleep problems

I have posted numerous times about the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Now it turns out that previous head injuries can also affect night time rest.

Every year, thousands of people end up in the emergency room or hospital with minor head injuries, often diagnosed as concussions. Concussions usually result from falls, violence, bicycle accidents or sports injuries.

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In the first days following a severe concussion, it is common to experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, an increased need for sleep or difficulty sleeping.

“Most people fully recover from their problems after a short time, but some individuals suffer long-term problems that affect their quality of life, work and school,” says PhD candidate researcher Simen Berg Saksvik at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Psychology.

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